By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Nash's voice rises by at least 10 decibels. "If you can produce a doctor who will testify to your client's condition, I will think about it."
Outside in the hallway, The Kid shakes Margolin's hand. "This is the best that could be expected," The Kid says. "Thanks."
"It's still not a deal," his girlfriend sneers.
"Young lady," Margolin says, "this was not easy. You should be celebrating. I should be celebrating. Unfortunately, I have to go right back into battle."
Margolin is punching numbers into his BlackBerry while he rushes to get to his car and his next client. "He got very lucky," Margolin says of The Kid. "I didn't know if the D.A. was going to fuck me and this guy."
In a culture with no shortage of made-for-TV political analysts and with an issue as hot as legalizing pot on the ballot, you'd think this thing would be everywhere. Smoke-ins in the park. Just Say No rallies in front of the sleek new Police Administration Building next to Los Angeles City Hall. Politicians lining up, eager to take sides.
But whichever side wins, it's unlikely it will ever be cited or taught in political-science classes as a spectacular example of a genius campaign.
For one thing — what campaign?
At press time, there were no radio ads. No TV. Yes on 19 has T-shirts for sale, but has anyone seen so much as a campaign button?
A few big checks drifted in, including $100,000 each from Napster founder Sean Parker and sex toys website chief Philip Harvey. Insurance magnate Peter Lewis gave $159,000 and David Bronner (Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps) wrote a check for $75,000 to Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
Lee, president of Oaksterdam U., based in Oakland and L.A., spent $1.4 million of the school's money to get Proposition 19 on the November ballot: $950,000 to gather signatures and $450,000 on consultants.
But Yes on 19 has been tight-lipped about its ad campaign. "We're not taking anything off the table during the last two weeks," spokesman Tom Angell says, but refuses to comment further.
Lee says TV ads are in production, adding, "Anyway, we still think we have a real good chance of winning."
Endorsements are picking up, too. NAACP chief Alice Huffman has thrown in her group's support, saying weed laws discriminate against blacks and Latinos. And Antonio Gonzalez, Latino Voters League coordinator in L.A., says his group will reach 100,000 young Latinos, urging them to vote. He describes Proposition 19 as a way "to punch government in the nose."
But Margolin notes so far, "I don't see a lot of people on the ground trying to convince people to vote for 19."
Nobody has called for Margolin's input, but in mid-September he spoke in favor of Proposition 19 at Hempcon, a marijuana trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Dale Sky Jones, of Yes on 19, says her group hasn't reached out to Margolin even though they understand that he's been the lifelong warhorse on the medical-marijuana front. "Bruce is a supporter," Jones says. "But it's been difficult to figure out how to use his talent."
Those on the other side, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein and L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who co-chair No on 19, claim the measure's passage won't bring anything but heartache to California. "It will cause harm to Californians on our roadways, and in our schools, workplaces and communities," Feinstein said in a press release.
Yet most big names behind No on 19 — LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Feinstein, gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, U.S. Senate candidates Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer, attorney general contenders Steve Cooley and Kamala Harris — didn't return L.A. Weekly's calls or e-mails asking for an interview.
Repeated calls and e-mails to all of them netted only the following reply, from an LAPD representative: "Unfortunately Chief Beck is not speaking on this proposition, nor is anyone else within the department. We are referring all of the questions related to it to the City Attorney's Office, [which] has done a great deal of research on it."
L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich finally responded to repeated interview requests. Trutanich is the guy who has followed Los Angeles District Attorney Cooley's lead, launching a crackdown on Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries.
He has sued longtime and politically active owners of L.A. medical-pot dispensaries simply for breaking a city rule against hiring new managers or changing ownership. He's asked a judge to shut down dozens of dispensaries, most of which opened without licenses after the Los Angeles City Council enacted a moratorium in late 2007.
"We'll be without any rules at all" if voters back Proposition 19, Trutanich says. "Right now we have the [Alcohol Beverage Control Boards] to regulate alcohol but nothing to regulate marijuana. Some of the predictable things you're going to see . . . an increase in driving under the influence, an increase in addictions, anyone under 18 will be able to get it easier."
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